SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — Americans spend nearly $35 billion dollars a year on dietary supplements, hoping to gain or hold on to good health.
But swallowing a handful of pills, capsules, powders and potions throughout the day can be a daunting task. One Bay Area startup hopes to solve that problem.
When it comes to taking vitamins, 27-year old Darren Thomason is awash in confusion.
“I personally don’t know what supplements I should be taking or what combinations would be good for me,” said Thomason.
At last count, more than fifty thousand different products are on the market. It’s tough to decide which to use.
“It’s such a complicated thing to think about,” mused Thomason.
Instead of taking a handful of supplements, Thomason volunteered to test a single pill, packed with everything he needed, custom-made to his taste.
The high tech pill can release up to 12 different vitamins, minerals and nutrients throughout the day at exactly the time you wish.
It’s called the Multiply Pill, and there’s quite a team of creators behind it.
“We put it all within one pill. You just have to take it in the morning and that’s all you need,” explained Multiply Labs co-founder and head of marketing and operations Tiffany Kuo,
“It was about making a change and trying to do something different,” said co-founder and chief technology officer Alice Melocchi.
At Multiply Labs, now in San Francisco, the four co-founders all come from MIT — two MBAs and two engineers — with a singular way to approach health.
“For the first time, we actually allow people to customize their pills based upon their life,” said co-founder and project head Joe Wilson.
3-D printing technology makes it all happen. It begins with the printing of a shell made out of special pharmaceutical-grade polymer. “That allows us to pack more into a pill,” said Wilson.
As the shell prints, vitamins, minerals and nutrients are deposited into different compartments that are fabricated inside.
Fred Parietti is co-founder and CEO of Multiply Labs. He showed us a bigger model of the pill and opened it to show us what’s inside.
Parietti pointed out the separate compartments inside. Each will be filled with a different supplement or combination of supplements.
The thickness of the wall determines when the contents get released over the course of a day.
“What 3-D printing allows us to do is each and every pill can be different from the others,” explained Parietti.
The team explained how customers can order online and select components from a menu. One nutrient you can include is caffeine, which can come in handy if you don’t have time to make a coffee run.
“Yes they sometimes love a coffee but other times they don’t want to think about getting the coffee so with our pill they can easily get that energy released,” said Kuo.
The addition of caffeine that is released at a specific time of your choosing is a feature Darren loves.
His test pill was engineered to release caffeine at 2 p.m.
“I would have some energy and some focus to keep doing my work effectively throughout the afternoon, still have energy when I would leave work to go exercise or meet up with friends,” said Darren.
The pills will be sent twice a month. You can pre-order now and the service will cost roughly $40/month. The service is scheduled to begin in spring of 2017. If you order after that, the cost will be about $50/month.